At a time when manufacturers in Dayton and across the country are enjoying robust growth, they’re having trouble finding qualified workers, a leader of and advocate for Dayton-area manufacturing told a congressional sub-committee Wednesday.
“They have real concerns about their ability to attract and retain the manufacturing workforce they need to keep growing,” Steve Staub, co-owner of Staub Manufacturing Solutions in Harrison Twp., told the U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee on Human Resources.
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In fact, the lack of qualified workers is manufacturers’ “No. 1 concern,” Staub said.
“This challenge, which has frustrated manufacturers for many years, is becoming even more pronounced in today’s better economic climate,” he said.
Staub, who is also a director of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), reminded committee members that employment in manufacturing is rising by an average of 18,733 jobs each month since the end of 2016.
But the need for the right workers threatens that growth, he warned.
“The most desperate needs of the manufacturing workforce remain in skilled professions like welding and machining as well as a need for production and maintenance technicians,” Staub said in prepared remarks NAM shared before his testimony.
Last week, the full Ways and Means committee took testimony on the “jobs gap” — the gap between the need for workers and the people available with the necessary skills to fill those jobs openings. It’s a subject on which Staub and fellow Dayton-area manufacturing leaders have spoken many times.
The demand for qualified workers “is not lessening at all,” Angelia Erbaugh, executive director of the Dayton Region Manufacturers Association, recently told the Dayton Daily News.
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“It’s still their (employers’) No. 1 concern,” Erbaugh said. “Every meeting, every gathering, that’s always a top concern.”
“Approximately 426,000 manufacturing jobs across the nation are still going unfilled because there simply are not enough qualified applicants to fill them,” Staub testified.
That number will only rise, he added.
He asked legislators to consider measures supporting technical or vocational education as well as support for communities hit hard by opioids and addiction.
Staub was named to the NAM board of directors earlier this month.
He hails from a family of Dayton-area manufacturers and employs about 30 people. His sister, Sandy Keplinger, is the company’s vice president and co-owner. His brother, Ben Staub, is president and owner of Bastech Inc. and Rapid Direction Inc.